In the modern seed industry a lot of attention is paid to protecting plants from different kinds of diseases and pests. This is sometimes accomplished by breeding varieties that are resistant to diseases, thereby protecting the crop through its growth cycle. However, when resistant varieties are not available or the level of resistance is not sufficient under high disease and pest pressure, the grower may decide to use crop protection methods i.e., applying plant protection compounds (chemicals or biological material). These compounds can be used in two ways, either as an application to the soil or sprayed directly on the plant. Such crop protection methods may require the use of significant quantities of active substances.
An excellent alternative is to apply crop protection compounds directly to the seed before sowing. Such a treatment to the seed requires the use of very small quantities of active substances per unit area of land, and is a very effective and targeted method of controlling pests and diseases. Seed treatments are a valuable tool for Integrated Pest Management (IPM) as they exert little pressure on the environment (see publication Seed Treatment: a Tool for Sustainable Agriculture).
The Seed Treatment and Environment Committee (STEC) was established in the nineties to raise the awareness of the seed industry on the use of different treatments on seed and to promote a better understanding of how production could be improved and made more efficient. STEC members are from international seed companies but representatives from international crop protection companies are invited to participate in meetings, thereby forming a link between the two industries.
STEC actively seeks contact with international organizations so as to be able to explain the potential of seed treatments and to work jointly in finding solutions to problems. In addition, STEC exchanges information within the seed industry on the potential of seed treatments and its risk management, and safety and environmental issues and aims to improve awareness outside the seed industry of seed treatment issues such as registration, minor uses, movement of treated seeds, product safety, IPM and product liability. STEC has released several publications, which provide information on the benefits and risk management of seed treatments, and give professional advice on how to work with seed treatments in a manner that is safe for people and the environment. In 2003 Bangalore (India), in 2005 Santiago (Chile) and in 2007 Livingstone (Zambia) it organized a Seed Treatment Conference, where the state-of-the-art in seed treatment technology was presented (see abstracts of the Bangalore conference).
See also Publications on Seed Treatment.